Sánchez to target Tour podium in 2010

Olympic Champion pleased with Tour de France's mountainous route

Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) wants to place in the top three of the overall classification at next year's Tour de France. The Spaniard says a strong performance at the French Grand Tour will be his major goal in 2010.

"I dream of a podium finish and a stage win at the Tour," Olympic Champion Sánchez told Marca.

He has the capability of a high finish, based on his performance at his national tour, the Vuelta a España, in September. He finished second overall after three weeks of racing, behind Spaniard Alejandro Valverde and ahead of Cadel Evans.

This year, he skipped the Tour to race the Vuelta and prepare for the World Championships. Last year, he used the Tour de France as a lead up to his Olympic road race win. He finished sixth overall at the 2008 Tour, 6:25 behind winner Carlos Sastre.

Sánchez said he will take a vacation and then plan next season's schedule. Although he already has a clear idea of his main focus, "the Tour, only the Tour," he said.

Tour organiser Amaury Sports Organisation (ASO) presented the course for the 2010 Tour de France last month in Paris. The race will start in Rotterdam, Netherlands, on July 3 and end in Paris on Sunday, July 25. Its first mountains come in the Alps, with stages to Morzine and Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne. Four Pyrenean mountain stages have been included in the final week, with the summit finish to the Col du Tourmalet four days before the finish.

"I like [the 2010 Tour course]," continued Sánchez. "It has a very hard last week, when I usually go well. Like the Vuelta, there are three consecutive hard stages [Ax-3 Domaines, Bagnères-de-Luchon and Pau]. Then, after a day of rest, the Tourmalet and the final time trial."

He admitted a podium place will be difficult, but possible. Sánchez expects a highly competitive Tour in 2010 and listed Evans, Lance Armstrong, Alberto Contador, Andy Schleck, Alexander Vinokourov, "and many others" as rivals.

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